So after a couple of days in Madurai, Summer had arrived early and whatever about my visitor from Ireland and myself, even the locals start to melt in 38C – time to head for a hill station…
Originally built in the 19th century by foreign missionaries to escape the heat and the then prevelance of tropical diseases in the plains – nowadays its backpackers, hikers and honeymooning couples that come fleeing the heat. At 2,100 meters up, Kodaikanal was a good 15-20C cooler than Madurai – this makes the region an ideal spot for growing everything from carrots, cabbages and pears to tea and spices.
La Salette Church
Also discovered that I wasn’t quite the first from Westmeath to discover Kodaikanal – meet Sir Vere Henry Levinge, Baronet of Knockdrin Castle – who’s commerated here with a lakeside memorial.
He was prominent as an administrator in developing the town in the late 19th century and for amongst other things building the dam that created the town’s lake. It would seem the Irish get everywhere…
Alleppey & Cochin
I’d been to Alleppey (known locally as Alappuzha) before but only for an overnight trip on one of its well-known riverboats. With a couple of extra days, it was time to get lost in the backwaters. The whole area is cris-crossed with canals – originally used for the shippment of both rice and spices etc from further east and great for kayaking.
Allepey also has an excellent beach which unlike most beaches in South India was only moderately leathal for swimming. The Lonely Planet describes it as a ‘fraught’ beach, but the locals were swimming, so we said we’d give it a shot.
Last stop Cochin – the commercial capital of Kerala… one last sunset – for now.
I haven’t been out and about as much as I’d like of late – dentists, Tamil lessons (and probably laziness…) all to blame. Not to worry, it gives me a chance to post about a trip I took all the way back in November shortly after arriving.
Padmanabhapuram Palace was on my way to the southern-most tip of India and is just outside the town of Thuckalay. Although located in modern-day Tamil Nadu, it was actually the palace for the historic rulers of what’s now Southern Kerala – the Travancores.
Its a very impressive palace though and given the climate and a couple of hundred years of history, one that remains in very good shape
Rosewood and Teak Roof Carvings
The Travancores by the way, are known as one of the Indian kingdoms that while ‘under the protection’ of the British, kept a good degree of independence during their rule in India. So much so, that on Indian Independence, an attempt was made for the Kingdom to remain independent of the rest of India – it wasn’t to be of course.
More from the Holiday Snaps and Sunsets Department… Its nearly two months now, but I paid a quick visit to Kerala to catch up with some friends who were visiting back before Christmas.
First it was a couple of days in Varkala – a popular hang resort amongst backpackers – and then it was on to a boat trip through the Kerala backwaters.
Varkala at Sunset
Fishermen near Varkala
Varkala at Sunset
Varkala at Sunset
The backwaters are a network of brackish lagoons, lakes and canals on which you can potter about in a converted rice barges. With rice farming, fishing and some tourism, there’s actually quiet a population living out amongst the lakes. Might have to get myself a canoe, but expect I’ll be back to explore.
As it happened, before heading back to Madurai from Kochin (Kerala’s largest city) I managed to catch an air & sea show by the Southern Command of the Indian Navy. No sign of India’s newest aircraft carrier, but they still managed to blow stuff up and show off some of India’s finest military aircraft (with names I don’t remember of course – apologies plane-spotters).